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How to get rid of sweat stains

Everything you need to know about removing sweat stains, what causes them & how to prevent them.

How to get rid of sweat stains

Yellow sweat stains on clothing can ruin your favourite T-shirt, blouse or shirt. Many people have experienced yellow sweat stains on their clothing - they can appear on workout gear, summer clothing or work shirts. These sweat stains discolour the area around the armpits and can even change the feel of the fabric.

But while sweat stains can be stubborn, there’s no need to relegate that shirt or dress to the recycling bin. There are several measures you can take to avoid sweat stains and, if they do appear, steps you can take to get rid of them. 

Read on to find out how to banish deodorant and sweat stains. 

What are sweat stains and how do we get them?

Sweat is the body’s way of cooling down its core temperature, which is why you sweat most often when you’re exercising, when you’re in a hot room or the weather is warm. There are other reasons why you might sweat - you may also sweat when you’re nervous, stressed or apprehensive. Stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine can also increase your heart rate and cause you to sweat more. You also sweat when you have an elevated temperature as your body fights off an infection.

Sweat is made up of water, salt, fats, and proteins. When you sweat, all of these components will end up on your clothing. And it is usually not sweat alone that discolours our clothes, but, rather ironically, the products we use to control how much we sweat. 

Antiperspirants help us reduce how much we sweat but they can also be contributing to the discoloured patches under your best summer dress. Sweat can react with ingredients found in antiperspirants deodorants, such as zirconium and aluminium. 

Aluminium in antiperspirant deodorants blocks the sweat ducts and so reduces how much you sweat. The reaction of this chemical with your sweat will cause yellowing that, over time, gets ground into the fabric. 
woman holding a Nivea deodorant

How to prevent sweat stains on clothing

While there are steps you can take to get rid of sweat stains on your clothes, it is best to try and avoid them in the first place. 
man using a Nivea deodorant
man holding a Nivea deodorant

Here are a few tips on avoid unsightly underarm stains:
- Use an aluminium-free deodorant or one designed to avoid white marks
- Make sure your deodorant or antiperspirant is completely dry before you put on your top or dress
- Wash your clothes after each wear with a good detergent to avoid sweat stains building up and becoming embedded in the fabric
- Don’t leave your gym kit in its bag - take it out and wash it as soon as you can. In fact, that goes for all sweaty clothes - avoid leaving a sweaty shirt in the wash basket for too long and the sweat will dry out, as this allows the stain to set in 
- Wear a vest T-shirt under your shirt or dress to avoid getting sweat stains on your favourite garment


How to remove sweat stains out of white clothing

White T-shirts and shirts are most susceptible to yellow sweat stains. But there’s no need to throw them out just yet. There are ways to help remove even the most stubborn of sweat stains. Here’s how: 
woman applying Nivea deodorant
  1. Rinse the area in warm water
  2. Use targeted treatment before you wash it - this might be rubbing in a specialist stain treatment or, for a more natural treatment, try rubbing white vinegar into the area, or a paste of baking soda and water
  3. Leave the treatment for at least 20 minutes. The more ingrained the stain the longer you need to leave it. Depending on the stubbornness of the stain, you may want to leave it as long as overnight. 
  4. Wash the piece of clothing as usual without washing off the pre-treatment. A regular wash is fine - there’s no need to use a hot wash
  5. If the stain has not budged, repeat steps 1-4 while the garment is still damp
  6. Do not treat the soiled area with bleach

How to get sweat stains out of coloured clothing

Removing yellow stains from coloured clothes follows a similar approach. But as you don’t want to ruin the colour with the pre-treatment, perhaps try a small patch first with your chosen stain remover - either shop bought or homemade before covering the whole area. 
woman holding a Nivea deodorant

Home remedies to get rid of sweat stains:

There are several tried and tested natural ways to treat sweat stains or deodorant stains. Try these for a natural way of removing sweat stains on your clothes:

Crush two aspirin tablets, and mix the powder with warm water. Soak the stain in the solution for two to three hours, then wash as normal.

Dissolve four tablespoons of salt in a litre of hot water. Once it’s dissolved, rub into the affected area.

Vinegar is so often the answer to any household problem and the same is true of discoloured armpits. Simply take distilled white vinegar and rub it into the stain before popping it in the wash on your usual cycle. You can also place vinegar in the fabric softener drawer to brighten up white clothing and help get rid of lasting odours.

Baking soda
Baking powder is another mighty kitchen cupboard hack. Mix it with two parts water to make a paste and rub on to any deodorant or yellow stains. Leave for up to two hours.

Scrub underarm stains with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water. 

Use the right antiperspirant for you

It is important to use an antiperspirant or deodorant that works for you and your body. Both deodorant and antiperspirant help to neutralise the bacteria that cause the smell we know as body odour. In addition, antiperspirant contains aluminium that reduces how much you sweat by blocking the sweat glands. Because of these sweat-blocking ingredients, antiperspirants react with your sweat and cause stains. 
girl applying Nivea deo-stick

Here’s how to reduce deodorant stains:

- Apply a antiperspirant while you sleep
Put on a deodorant at night on clean, dry skin before you go to bed. Our sweat glands are less active at night and your body temperature drops, which means applying it overnight makes the antiperspirant more effective. The product also has more time to sink in so reducing the chances of deodorant stains. 

- Choose an anti stain deodorant 
There are antiperspirants available designed not to stain your clothes or leave white marks marks. Explore our NIVEA Anti-Stain Deodorant range for ultimate protection to your underarms and your clothing, leaving you fresh and dry and without leaving unsightly marks.